ParAunting Two Amazing Kids
is a ParAunt to her Nephew and Niece and former Nanny in Orange County, CA.
Sarah Toscano is not only a Savvy Auntie, she’s also a ParAunt, meaning she’s the primary caregiver for her niece and nephew. Follow her on her journey here, or on her website.
All About Joseph
Joseph was born on July 23, 2001. He was just over six pounds and covered in hair. He literally looked like a (very cute) monkey. He was my shining star. I loved him to pieces and smothered him with kisses and love. He was my little mini-me; for the first six months of his life, he lived in my room. We had a crib and everything set up for him.
I was only 16, so why did I have a baby in my room? Well, my older sister, Shannon, was living in a home for mothers with babies and she had just been diagnosed with lupus. She was tired and sore and couldn’t handle dealing with a newborn. At this time I was doing high school independent studies once a week, so watching a newborn worked for me. Once she was better she came to live with us. I still was 98% involved with taking care of Joseph.
I matured faster than most of my friends because I was helping raise a baby. I use the word ‘helping’ very loosely: I was the one who kept a baby book; I was the one who gave him baths; I was the one who fed him most of the time. I was the one who got ecstatic when he first rolled over, took his first steps and said his first words. I was the one who spent hundreds of dollars on birthdays. I loved playing mommy. Even though I really wasn’t playing - over the years I raised Joseph, I tried to teach him as much as I could, just like a mommy would. His mom never did.
Joseph will be 9 years old this July. I can’t believe ‘my baby’ is growing so fast! I feel like he was just born yesterday. Joseph is a very creative kid. He loves to play with his Legos and build whatever his imagination brings him. He also likes to draw.
When we ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he says that he wants to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is perfectly fine with me! Jeff has already given him a few baseballs and a glove and they plan on making that dream come true. I think Joseph would make a great artist or even an architect. When Joseph turns 9 I am going to put him into Cub Scouts. I believe it will make him a stronger boy and turn him into a fine young man one day. Plus, I want to open his eyes to everything out in the world. I won’t do any pushing. If he chooses to no longer do any of these things that is up to him. I will stand by him and support him 100% in whatever he chooses to do.
All About Hannah
Hannah was born on February 25, 2004. Just like Joseph, she weighed in at just over six pounds. She was a petite baby. I was still raising Joseph and now I was thrilled to ‘have’ a girl. They are so much fun with the dresses, bows and frilly pink things - I loved it. I showered her with just as much love and kisses as I had with Joseph; I was able to share my heart with both children. Shannon couldn’t do that and once Hannah was born, Joseph was put on the back burner. Hannah was her baby girl that she never got to raise so she showed her more love and attention. Joseph was always getting yelled at or into trouble with his mom. Most of the time he didn't do anything wrong. He would be made to pick up after his sister when she made a mess.
During this time I was working a full time job at a preschool. I talked to my boss to try and get the kids into the preschool so that they could get some form of an education and so that they would be with me all day and I knew they would be safe. Shannon would need to apply for the Children’s Home Society and she took forever to start the process.
Once the children were there they stayed for about six months and had to leave because she never stayed on top of the paperwork, something I had no control over. Both kids blossomed during that six months but once they had to leave and stay home with Shannon, they no longer grew. It was hard for me to be at work all day, teaching other people’s children what I knew my own niece and nephew weren’t getting. When I would get home, I would try my best, but it wasn’t enough.
Over the years my heart has grown for these children. I prayed for the day that they would be solely in my care. In October 2009, after a physical fight (started by her and in self defense on my part) between Shannon and me, my mom told Shannon to leave to cool off. Shannon chose not to return. She did make an effort at Christmas in 2009 to visit for two weeks. The children saw her twice.
Six Months Later
It has been six months now and the children are doing wonderfully. Joseph had some problems at school with behavior right after Shannon left. With the team work of Jeff, my mom, Joseph’s teacher, and me, everything has worked out perfectly. He went back to the ‘old Joseph,’ a loving, caring and sweet little boy. Hannah had a hard time after Shannon left too. She cried everyday for two weeks when I would drop her off at school, in fear that I would not return. I would keep reassuring her that I wasn’t going anywhere.
Being a Stay-at-Home ParAunt
In January my nanny-boss got laid off, so I did too. After a month of job searching and being stressed out and treating it as a full time job and not being there 100% with the kids, we decided that I should just stay at home with them. I do plan to return to work in September 2010 once both kids are on the same school schedule. Right now I try and be as involved with the children’s schooling as I possibly can. I volunteer twice a week in Hannah’s classroom and I love it. I love being able to watch her learn and grow. Joseph gets embarrassed if he sees me at school so I have not volunteered in his class yet.
Both kids have expressed to me how much they love me being at home all the time. They love our trips to the park, which we take on an almost daily basis. They love our Saturday library trips. They love all the attention that I give to them. I love the fact that they are now caught up in their school work. Hannah loves doing her homework. Joseph struggles a little bit with his school work, but he gets it done, even if it takes him all night. I love the fact that they now have a set bedtime - 8 p.m. - on weekdays. On Friday or Saturday nights we do a movie night. They take turns picking out a movie, camp out in the living room for the night and stay up until about 10 p.m. watching a movie.
I believe everything has happened for a reason; these children were brought into my life for a reason. Although I believe it was to make me be responsible and to grow up, I’m not sure if that’s the true reason. One day I hope it becomes clear.
Stay tuned to Savvy Auntie for more of Sarah’s amazing story…coming soon!
Published May 10, 2010